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11 Jun

History of the “Mama Negra”

The Festival of La Mama Negra held in the city of Latacunga and is the sample of popular folklore, miscegenation and syncretism among various cultures
Ecuadorian and Spanish.

It is the most important cultural miscegenation party in all of Latin America. Many latacungueños debate about the different theories that exist about the origin of this festival, the truth is that it constitutes an identity element of the city and a historical component of a long ancestral trajectory. The party of the Black Mama has features: indigenous, African and Hispanic evidenced in the large number of: characters, trappings,
masks, dances, food and drinks throughout the festival, the same that is carried out by the whole town as a theater whose genre is comedy.

Not only the customs and traditions of Spain are mixed with the local ones, but also of Africa since the King of Spain Fernando de Aragón y Castilla
allowed the import of black slaves to the American continent in the fourteenth century, as a result of this in the Tacvnga Seat was demonstrated slavery not only of the natives but of said smudges in obrajes and mining; the latter in the government of José María Urbina were released, and here is another of the many origins of the party, in which various black characters are seen.

With the words of a chronicler “the Indian is born in the dust, sleeps on the bare earth, and lives happily with his fruit” we can conclude that his daily activity was dawn on the earth, to work it and return to it, they were considered ” blacks “, because in Latin” morus “means” dark “.
At harvest time they celebrated with the fruit of the Pacha Mama and, smearing their faces, they danced to the rhythm of pingullos, drums singing yaravíes. In addition they were to participate in jochas: “event where neighbors and friends have to help the committed with a suitable gift, but this with the obligation to compensate their debtors in the next party.” Guacos, monkeys, yumbos, ñanta pascashua (unknown character) and brandy were never missing in this festival registered since the time of the panzaleos and Incas, ancestral vestige.
In 1742, the Cerro Grande, known by some as Cuello de Luna and by others as Mama Juana erupts and the inhabitants of Tacvnga seek help in the Virgen de las Mercedes, whose image is carried between prayers on the shoulders towards the Cerro “El Calvary “where raising his hand stops the fury of the Volcano, being thus proclaimed Lawyer and Patron of the Volcano.
The grateful people, swore to celebrate each year in his name as a sign of gratitude, is then what takes a tinge AUTO SACRAMENTAL, and voluntary. There is a legend that dates to the middle of the 20th century; he mentions that a Prioste Mayor of the party does not assume the responsibilities or commitments of the commission, who already in his bed dreams that the devil appears to him with the appearance of a black woman with her son in arms congratulating him for not having fulfilled those obligations, afraid the man asks the successors of the office that they should not leave such a magnificent honor aside, and they should organize the festival more and more each year, not only out of fear but also because of devotion, and this is perhaps where this black figure of a woman appears, this remains at the discretion of each researcher and reader. Another possible origin of the Black Mama is that a black slave caravan that passed through Tacvnga when they went to the mines of Sarapullo participated in a festival of the natives who initially promoted the festivities. In short, the sources are diverse and unknown, and theories about this folkloric act and of such a dimension, of what if we can have certainty is that it is an absolutely mestizo phenomenon, and that those who participate as a character or as a spectator, always show that his blood runs: party, culture, tradition, blood of indigenous roots, whether it be of good surname or “of the field”, runs Machica, blood runs Mashka.

Over time this city called hospitable, has adopted it as his own, holding it in two months: September for the Feast of the Virgen de las Mercedes called by the same people “Mama Negra de los Indios or Authentic Feast” and in November called as the “Black Mama of whites or politics (since it is institutionalized and the entity in charge is the Municipality”), also by the same people.
The latter was born in 1963 thanks to the organization of young people from the Barrio Centro, who for the Fiestas de la Independencia de Latacunga, replicate the septembrina party, with a change in the “main” characters, they designate them for their gift of philanthropy and generosity towards the city, considering a form of gratitude of the city for its contributions.

For those who come from outside and look at this cultural expression of the Latacungueño people, regardless of their origin, can observe such degree of empowerment of the people with their party, with faith, with laalgarabía. A town without roots will never grow, these are our roots, and it will always be called Tin